News Items from the Internet
Tom Hastings (www.peacevoice.info) sent the article “Ready to rumble for jobs, not war and more weapons?” by Judith Le Blanc in which she says that something is missing in the news reporting on the debt ceiling deal struck on August 2 by Congress and the President, calling for close to $1 trillion in cuts in discretionary programs over the next decade. The deal exempts spending on the wars in
[email protected] forwarded information from Medea Benjamin, citing a “fact sheet” released by the White House, which states that the recent deal to raise the national debt ceiling “puts us on track to cut $350 billion from the defense budget over 10 years.” But, Benjamin points out, the cuts for 2012 are virtually nothing. Security spending will be capped at $684 billion in 2012, a decline of less than 1 percent from this year.
Also, these so-called deep military cuts (if they even happen) merely mean cutting defense by 3 percent a year when it has grown at a rate of 9 percent over the last decade. And, of course, official budget numbers don’t tell the whole story. Economist Robert Higgs estimates the yearly total spent on the military is $1 trillion or more, with over half of the federal income tax going to the military. The tragic irony is that debt caused in large part by foreign military adventures is being used to further a class war at home, even as the bloodshed continues in
www.portside.org emailed news of major protests against
Students want the state to take over the public school system where 90 percent of the country’s 3.5 million students are educated. While
From www.counterpunch.org comes the article “Burning Britain” by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed. It concerns the rioting, looting, and plunder that started in Tottenham on Saturday, August 6 and by August 10 had spread throughout the capital. Shops were broken into, properties vandalized, and flats and vehicles set alight by gangs of mostly young men in Croydon, Clapham, Brix- ton, Hackney, Camden, Lewisham, Peckham, Newham, East Ham, Ilford, Enfield, Woolwich, Ealing, Colliers Wood, Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, and Nottingham. Described by witnesses as a “war- zone,” these were the worst riots to hit
There is an unmistakable race dimension to the class inequality. Black and ethnic minority groups face the brunt of the economic crisis. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, 70 percent of those in income poverty in inner
News of a quarter of a million Israelis marching August 6 for economic reform comes from www.tinyurl.com. The biggest demonstration took place in Tel Aviv where around 300,000 people marched from
This marked the third consecutive week a rally had been held in Tel Aviv. More than 20,000 people took part in the protest in
News of a strike at Verizon on August 9 came from Steve Early at www.civilwarsinlabor.org. The contract for 45,000 employees expired at midnight Saturday August 6 after the company and the workers were unable to come to terms on such issues as health- care costs and pensions. Several hundred strikers demonstrated outside the company’s headquarters in lower
Denouncing the Deal
Www.commondreams.org sent a report from the New York Metro chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) —an 18,000-member national organization—in which they denounced the federal debt ceiling deal signed by President Obama. “Politicians who say Medicare and Social Security are spared cuts are not being honest,” said Dr. Oliver Fein, chair of PNHP-NY Metro. “Plans to cut these vital programs are simply being delayed until later in the year. Balancing the books by cutting programs that help the sick and the elderly is unconscionable.”
The Budget Control Act includes a 2 percent across-the-board cut to Medicare, which will be triggered automatically unless Congress accepts a budget reduction plan by a 12-member “Super- committee” before December 23. Since Medicare has a 3 percent overhead, compared with 17-28 percent for private health insurance, advocates for a universal, affordable health care system have long pushed for a public insurance system based on an improved version of Medicare for everyone. Fein added, “An effective social program like Medicare is not the cause of our economic problem; it is the solution. Medi- care is a government- funded program that is much more efficiently run than its private counterpart. It prioritizes people’s needs instead of private profits. This approach is the basis for a healthy society, both physically and fiscally.”
“It’s not only about what is in this bill, since so much is still up in the air, but the larger political environment that allowed the conversations surrounding this bill to be possible,” said Elizabeth Rosenthal, a dermatologist and PNHP-NY Metro Board member. “Doctors have to advocate for their patients, and we can’t remain silent when the foundation of our social safety net is being dismantled. This is a life and death issue.”
The Murdoch Media Scandal
www.portside.org forwarded the article, “Murdoch: This scandal has exposed the scale of elite corruption” by Seumas Milne, from the July 20 issue of the Guardian (
But the real frenzy isn’t the exposure of the scandal—it’s the scale of corruption, collusion, and cover-up between News International, politicians, and police that the scandal has revealed. As the cast of hacking victims, bloggers, and blackmailers has lengthened, and the details of the payments and job-swapping between News International, the government, and Scotland Yard become more complex, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture that has now emerged.
Murdoch’s overweening political influence has long been recognized, from well before Tony Blair flew to
The Soprano-style is deeply embedded in the Murdoch dynasty. When New Labour culture secretary Tessa Jowell broke up with her husband in 2006 as he faced corruption charges (he was later cleared), News International was hacking into the couple’s phone.
But Murdoch is a case apart, not only because of his commanding position in both print and satellite TV, but because of the crucial part he played in cementing Margaret Thatcher’s political power and then shaping a whole era of New Labour/Tory neoliberal consensus that delivered enfeebled unions, privatization, and the Iraq war. His role in breaking the print unions at Wapping in the 1980s by sacking 5,000 mostly low-paid workers is still hailed in parts of the media as a brave blow for quality journalism. It was nothing of the kind. Over those years, News International has used its grip on the political class to rewrite media regulations in its own image. As we now know, it also suborned politicians and the police and operated as a freelance security service—not to expose the abuse of power, but to carry it out.
Nevertheless, the scandal could also create a powerful opportunity to weaken the unaccountable corporate power that has dominated the British press and move toward a freer, more diverse media. Labor leaders have been attacked by News International journalists for calling for a break up of the Murdoch empire and for putting limits on media concentration. Sooner or later, pressure for change will become unstoppable.
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